Author Topic: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?  (Read 16000 times)

Offline Sarah Ahiers (Falen)

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7878
  • Karma: 794
  • This, too, shall pass
    • Sarah Ahiers
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2016, 09:10:38 AM »
I never occurred to me that an agent would withhold any of the submission information from an author. I wouldn't like that at all.

It would make more sense to me to have all of that information shared as well as come to some understanding with the agent on how to proceed. If some aspect of proceeding is very important to an agent, I'd respect that if it's something we had come to a mutual understanding on.

From my experience, agents who withhold sub info have been burned by authors in the past.
Not that withholding it is a good thing, but I've definitely heard stories of agents giving authors the sub list, and have authors go crazy stalking the editors, and ruining possible deals.

I think it's pretty rare, though.

And my agent asks me to cc her on everything. That's actually really standard in agent relationships. Because she wants to make sure that she's not missing anything that might come up between me and my editor.
I mean, I'm paying her, why would I NOT cc her on everything?
Repped by Mollie Glick of CAA
ASSASSIN'S HEART 2016 HarperTeen
I hang out at Sarah Ahiers Writes
Author Website

Offline Munley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 586
  • Karma: 146
  • Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2017, 03:37:37 PM »
Bumping this up to see if anybody wants to add to it.

Offline mgmystery

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 903
  • Karma: 199
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2017, 09:23:21 AM »
Mine would be the question I didn't ask the first time around. I'm not sure if it will change my mind but: What happens to your clients if you move to another agency? Does that include clients who haven't sold yet?

Offline skribbler

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 104
  • Karma: 16
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2017, 01:26:30 PM »
After almost a year of no offers:

1) Are you sure you want to represent me?

2) What are your favorite flowers?

Offline atwhatcost

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 58
  • Karma: 5
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2017, 01:14:20 PM »
Bumping this up to see if anybody wants to add to it.
I don't have an agent yet. I'm aiming to start querying this week. So my mind is flooded with this question to hold back the fears of all the rejections.

I have three questions I fear I will ask immediately.
1. Really?
2. Really really?
3. Really really really?

Do you think that's a good start to the relationship?  :emb2:

(Humor. Just humor. Don't take this too seriously. Except, I know I'll be shocked at each rejection and any yeses. I'm going to be shocked no matter how this turns out.)

Offline Munley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 586
  • Karma: 146
  • Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2018, 04:57:22 AM »
Since this thread was last active, there have been several people who posted that they've had bad experiences with agents.

If any of you would feel comfortable answering, would you be willing to mention any questions you recommend asking an agent during the initial call?

Offline Spat

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 100
  • Karma: 40
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2018, 11:10:35 AM »
Hi, Munley. I've had bad experiences with agents who repped me and I just got a new offer of rep. My list of questions is literally 1 1/2 pages ranging from what made them go into agenting to communication/revision style to vision of my book to walking me through any contract areas I may not understand to dispersing funds and 1099 forms.

Due to my experience in trying to get a good agent for so long and having many friends surpass me, I have a list of very specific questions based on mine and their experiences and heartaches. But, having bad experiences, some of my questions hone into what had been disasters for me before.

1) Communication style: How often do you communicate with an author during brainstorming/writing/revision times. How often during submission time? Will you let me know when planning on or going on submission? Do you share editor names/spreadsheets/forward editor responses/share initial offers/contracts. What can I expect with your response time to questions/emails? Do you prefer text/phone calls/emails? (My last agent wouldn't respond to my emails for weeks at a time, sometimes taking more than two emails with the same questions, and she would set up phone call appointments but then not answer until 8 hours later. She also didn't tell me when she went on sub while I was thinking I was waiting on another round of edits.)

2) What is the average time editors take to respond to submissions? Has an editor ever offered, taken months to respond to an acceptance of offer, but then changed their mind? How did/would you handle that? (Book 2 on sub with my last agent supposedly didn't get any responses, or agent didn't share or heck, maybe she never subbed. And once on Book 1 I'd gotten an offer from a BIG 5, accepted, editor took 8 months to respond with a final changed her mind. Hmmm...really???)

3) What happens if this book doesn't sell? What happens if you don't love my future projects? Are you in this for this ms or career-term? Do you have an agency contract? (Usually will mention if per book or long-term as well as how things will go if either terminate. Hopefully this doesn't happen, but it could. Okay to ask to see contract before deciding who to sign with. And my first agent was apparently only into the first book, which I had sold and then she offered to rep, and suddenly she didn't like my voice on the next project. So, there's that...)

4) And a very ballsy (cuz I ain't playing anymore) what percentage of your authors make a living from writing? In addition to some of your recent sales (although it's best to research that beforehand, but some sales are not always publicized.)

Hope that helps. I plan on an hour phone call to go over my many, detailed questions as well as being prepared to answer their questions, which seem to revolve around my career goals/new ideas/work style, etc.

Offline Munley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 586
  • Karma: 146
  • Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2018, 03:58:38 PM »
Thanks, Spat, for this extensive list of specifics to ask about. I'll be thinking them over carefully.

It was kind of you to answer in view of wanting to avoid some of the same problems, since this is a time that looking forward to something better ahead would, it seems to me, be more pleasant.

I don't have any offers yet, but I'll be putting together my questions based on your and other helpful pointers on this thread. Thanks again.

Offline Tabris

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4946
  • Karma: 990
  • I rock!
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2018, 04:00:16 PM »
Since this thread was last active, there have been several people who posted that they've had bad experiences with agents.

If any of you would feel comfortable answering, would you be willing to mention any questions you recommend asking an agent during the initial call?

This is more of an observation: the agent is in sales, and during that phone call, the agent is selling herself to you. That makes me doubt that any of our questions are going to get completely honest answers because no agent has a vested interest in being totally honest about her weak points. Most of the questions we ask are ones the agent is prepared to answer (What do you do with a book that doesn't sell? Are you in it for the whole of my career? What made you get into agenting?) and most of us aren't really prepared to evaluate someone as a job candidate. Most people, in fact, are notoriously bad at interviewing job candidates.

You may click with an agent or not over the phone, but I'm not sure the call offers that much extra information. Yes, I'm jaded after lousy experiences. But what agent is going to say, "Yeah, editors never follow up with me"? Which agent is going to say, "I will routinely shove you onto the back burner if my more important clients need me, and trust me, honey, they ALWAYS need me"?

There ARE good agents out there. But I don't think the phone call is the place to sort them out. I think the track record of sales is where the rubber meets the road. To that end, I guess ask fact-based questions: "How many books have you sold in the last year?" "How many of your clients does that represent?" "What genres are the books you sold?" "How many of those sales were to large- or medium-sized publishing houses that offered an advance?" "How many new clients have you signed in the last year?" (I wouldn't want that to be zero, btw. But I also wouldn't want it to be 25, yanno?)


Offline Spat

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 100
  • Karma: 40
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2018, 06:09:50 PM »
True, only time and experiences with an agent will tell you if you click. And, researching sales and speaking with their clients ahead of time helps answer some of these questions. But the agent-author relationship is supposed to have transparency and trust, and that does begin with the first phone call. Also, in my personal case, I want to express particular questions that have demolished my previous agent relationships and gauge how the agent would respond and let them know up front these are things that didn't work for me before and I need them to be a level of degree better, with realistic expectations, of course. Additionally, it's also good to Google search questions to ask offering agents to get an idea of what's important to you and what's beyond the book sale.

Offline Sarah Ahiers (Falen)

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7878
  • Karma: 794
  • This, too, shall pass
    • Sarah Ahiers
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2018, 08:13:03 AM »
Ooh those are great questions Tabris.

I'm also with you re: the phone call situation. Also, too, if you've never had an agent before, you really don't know what you want/need from an agent until you finally have one. Which is why authors change agents so much.

I think it's really good if you can talk to people who are repped by the agent and people who were repped by the agent but no longer are. Just talking to people in the community can really help you shed light on which agents you'd maybe want to avoid, even if their sales and advances are great.

Like, I have a friend who had an agent who does banger sales for his clients. He sells things big. But he's not great at getting his clients aligned with editors who can help their craft grow.

So a lot of his clients, while they earn a ton of money at first, don't earn out, or don't win the awards, etc, because even though the house paid 100k for the book, the editor wasn't the best person to help make that book what it really needed to be to be the best book it can be.

But of course a lot of that stuff is hard to find out while you're still querying.
Repped by Mollie Glick of CAA
ASSASSIN'S HEART 2016 HarperTeen
I hang out at Sarah Ahiers Writes
Author Website

Offline Munley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 586
  • Karma: 146
  • Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2018, 11:16:48 AM »
I'm taking in  all of these points, everyone. Thanks!

Just came across this PubRants post on 5 things writers rarely ask an agent during the first phone call, but should:

http://nelsonagency.com/2017/05/5-qs-authors-dont-ask-but-should-when-an-agent-offers-rep/

Can't help wondering how KN would know what writers seldom ask in a phone call, but they do look like good questions.

Offline kristinb

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • Karma: 3
  • always writing about magic and angry girls
    • Soliloquizing
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2018, 07:25:48 PM »
Hi, Munley. I've had bad experiences with agents who repped me and I just got a new offer of rep. My list of questions is literally 1 1/2 pages ranging from what made them go into agenting to communication/revision style to vision of my book to walking me through any contract areas I may not understand to dispersing funds and 1099 forms.

Due to my experience in trying to get a good agent for so long and having many friends surpass me, I have a list of very specific questions based on mine and their experiences and heartaches. But, having bad experiences, some of my questions hone into what had been disasters for me before.

1) Communication style: How often do you communicate with an author during brainstorming/writing/revision times. How often during submission time? Will you let me know when planning on or going on submission? Do you share editor names/spreadsheets/forward editor responses/share initial offers/contracts. What can I expect with your response time to questions/emails? Do you prefer text/phone calls/emails? (My last agent wouldn't respond to my emails for weeks at a time, sometimes taking more than two emails with the same questions, and she would set up phone call appointments but then not answer until 8 hours later. She also didn't tell me when she went on sub while I was thinking I was waiting on another round of edits.)

2) What is the average time editors take to respond to submissions? Has an editor ever offered, taken months to respond to an acceptance of offer, but then changed their mind? How did/would you handle that? (Book 2 on sub with my last agent supposedly didn't get any responses, or agent didn't share or heck, maybe she never subbed. And once on Book 1 I'd gotten an offer from a BIG 5, accepted, editor took 8 months to respond with a final changed her mind. Hmmm...really???)

3) What happens if this book doesn't sell? What happens if you don't love my future projects? Are you in this for this ms or career-term? Do you have an agency contract? (Usually will mention if per book or long-term as well as how things will go if either terminate. Hopefully this doesn't happen, but it could. Okay to ask to see contract before deciding who to sign with. And my first agent was apparently only into the first book, which I had sold and then she offered to rep, and suddenly she didn't like my voice on the next project. So, there's that...)

4) And a very ballsy (cuz I ain't playing anymore) what percentage of your authors make a living from writing? In addition to some of your recent sales (although it's best to research that beforehand, but some sales are not always publicized.)

Hope that helps. I plan on an hour phone call to go over my many, detailed questions as well as being prepared to answer their questions, which seem to revolve around my career goals/new ideas/work style, etc.

Ok, as someone who's been agented before, these are FANTASTIC questions. I'm taking notes for next time.

gckatz

  • Guest
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #28 on: March 04, 2018, 08:12:43 PM »
Lots of people ask to talk to current clients, but by definition those authors are satisfied with their agent. The question I want to ask is: Have you ever dropped a client, or been dropped by a client? Can I talk to them?

Offline Spat

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 100
  • Karma: 40
Re: 2 most important questions you had for an agent who called you?
« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2018, 07:25:09 PM »
Yep. I've asked agents about clients that have parted with them, who initiated it and why, and if it was amicable. I also try to find those authors and ask their side if they're willing to tell me. I can usually find the clients who've left the agent prior to even querying.

I recently signed with an agent. I had 3 offers, and each phone call took about an hour and a half. Some of it was social talk because we were very at ease with each other and excited, but most of it was down to the details. Between my bad experiences and what I've seen author friends go through (bad and good but mainly business logistics and how their agents care for them), I had a very detailed two-page list of questions.